The Library Debate: Construction Criticism

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There are several obstacles when it comes to the construction of a new library in the city of Dothan; one of them being the price of a new building.

Director Bettye Forbus, of the Houston-Love Library said, “Then, there are associated costs like survey work and site preparation that we're looking [at]; all together [it could be] an $18 million dollar project.”

That $18 million dollars includes a $12 million dollar construction cost, plus everything in between.

According to the library board, the city has made $10 million dollars available so they will need this to be a public and private venture as far as money is concerned.

And, on the private side of that is the Wiregrass Foundation, where around $6 million dollars is available for new construction.

Wiregrass Foundation Director Vince Edge shares a lot of the same opinions on what that location should offer. "As far as location goes, we think that ease of access, safe location well lit parking lots," he said.

Forbus added, "We want it to be safe and inviting and we think we can bring all of those elements together".

The library and the Wiregrass Foundation have similar goals, but one, where as the Wiregrass Foundation thinks research might indicate a new library belongs in a growing area of Dothan, others believe it belongs in downtown Dothan, a centerpiece for a revitalized downtown.

Tonye Wheelless, an investor in the downtown area said, "If you take it out of the downtown area, then it would make it more difficult for other people to utilize it, and that's what the library is for everyone, to be able to have transportation to it."

Back at the Wiregrass Foundation, the money to contribute to a new library depends on the procedure used to select the site. From their point of view, an outsider should evaluate the entire project, including its location downtown or not.

Edge added, "An outside consultant [was asked] to analyze the whole scope of the project from what services, how many square feet, whether we need to go to a branch system as well as the location."

The foundation will pay for the evaluation and a large part of the library, but it seems if there is no evaluation, there will be no money from the foundation. However, officials are hopeful that there will be means to pay for the library anyway.

Dothan City Manager Mike West concluded, "Hopefully, other business and industry in this area can somehow, in the short term find a mechanism to pay for this library.”

The prices might seem out of reach, but all parties agree there is a need for a new library.

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